COFE Campaign -
Preparing the Future of Europe!

What is the Conference on the Future of Europe?

The COFE is a Europe-wide participatory democracy exercise focused on the future direction and legitimacy of Europe. Its goal is to understand the aspirations and needs of citizens across Europe to help adapt Europe to their needs, implement mid-long term structural reforms, and bring Europe into the 21st century after a decade of crises. In other words, an ambitious grassroots socio-political re-constitution! 

The Conference will have three levels. Find below all explanations to understand better how the conference works, and check the COFE policy process overview.

"The Conference on the Future of Europe is an opportunity. A chance to bring Europe and its citizens together by actively involving them in the process and by setting a positive precedent according to which citizen participation is more than empty talk."
- Sven Franck, Lille City Lea
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Our ideas on the COFE platform

A reform plan for a citizen-based European Democracy

by Hannah Gohlke

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We need new energy in Europe. New ideas, new ambitions and new rules to build a Europe based on a strong social political Union, where risks are shared, benefits reach all Europeans, and every person has a voice. The EU needs to be reformed as the future lies in a truly democratic Europe that will be led by and built by its citizens:

1. Remove barriers for voting in Europe!

2. Enable European representative democracy! New political and citizens’ movements have grown over the last years, but they have no chance to run for European elections. Barriers to entry are incredibly high, preventing many from expressing their new political ideas in the European Parliament. We want lower thresholds for running in the EU elections! We want a pan-European ballot so that citizens can express their European political issues instead of through 27 national ones.

3. Establish a Federal Europe with a European Government, headed by visible leaders of the EU, which is elected by the European Parliament. This will create a strong, open, and transparent European parliamentary democracy.

4. Ensure the EU’s ability to act by deciding by majority on all issues in the Council & transforming the Council of the EU into a second legislative chamber representing the federal element of Europe.

5. Empower Members of the European Parliament to fully represent citizens’ interests by being able to propose legislation.

For an overview of VOLT proposals see https://www.volteuropa.org/cofe-campaign

Systematic integration of Climate Crisis policies in Foreign and Development policies

by Robin Fontaine

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Climate change and environmental disasters impact the world in a wide array of ways. Governments struggle to settle internally displaced populations, scramble to contain climate-driven migration, and buckle under the economic pressure of climate-threatened livelihoods. With the scope of the problem only beginning to dawn on the world, political institutions will need to make fundamental changes in the way they address climate change and environmental protection.

Comprehensive and specialised climate and environmental affairs must be systematically included in multilateral and bilateral security agendas. Protecting and restoring the environment must be non-negotiable conditions when shaping the EU’s diplomacy, instead of being understood merely as issues to be tackled through global accords. Large scale international documents, say, the Paris accords, are capital for increased cooperation on global threats. However, this will not suffice if Europe is to properly embrace its role as a sustainable world leader.

Consider the possibility for Europe to drive the green transition within the Union and through the Eastern and Southern Partnership Programs. That would feed into Europe’s geopolitical security needs, and address the pressing issue of global warming. To enable the EU to achieve such objectives, we must integrate environmental considerations into the runway of foreign affairs policy-making and push for climate change to be included in Security agendas.

European Political Parties: Make EU political representation citizens-based

by Elisabeth Friedrich

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We need to redefine what constitutes a European Political Party (EuPP) to bring it closer to EU citizens. Currently, we face 3 problems:

1. Direct membership in an EuPP is not encouraged.
2. EuPPs do not help the cooperation between EU citizens and the creation of a strengthened European identity, both crucial enablers of common political projects.
3. Not being able to assist their members in running for elections across Europe limits EuPPs electorally.

To counter this deficit we propose to:
1. Remove the electoral success requirement for registration and replace it with national presence in member states, not meaning presence in parliaments, but presence proven by a minimum proportion citizens’ signatures in member states.
2. Add a new definition to the statute such as European electoral associations that could benefit from EU law & are allowed to run in EU elections.
3. Revise EuPPs’ structure and operations, including but not limited to visibility, transparency, and sanctions. EuPPs should be made more visible by allowing them to act at national and local levels, by requiring national parties to clearly display their affiliation to EuPPs, and by improving transparency provisions in the laws governing them.

These measures would enable European political entities to trigger greater engagement from citizens vis-à-vis EU politics, whilst also generating a legally adequate political party organisation.

Overview of VOLT proposals: https://www.volteuropa.org/cofe-campaign

Creating a European Wealth Fund

by Teun Janssen

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A European Wealth Fund should be created to serve as the nexus for strategic investments in European and international economic activity aligning with European fundamental rights, norms and values and the global green and digital transition.

The planned use of new own resources for the EU such as a digital tax and carbon border adjustment tax, but also bold expansions to the recent precedent of Eurobonds could contribute to its funding. The Government Pension Fund of Norway is a shining example of how a transparent, independent and efficient Sovereign Fund can help political entities punch above their weight and influence normative alignments in the private sectors.

Let's learn from this best practice and make creative next steps in Europe's position as a global economic power while helping accelerate the fight against the climate crisis, digitalise our societies, and strengthen our commitment to human rights, including the protection of minorities.

Overview of VOLT proposals: https://www.volteuropa.org/cofe-campaign

Making EU elections more competitive & innovative

by Mikolaj Buszman

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We need to change how Europeans vote! The way we vote for our European political representatives has not changed fundamentally since 1979. Europe in the meantime, has changed. Five new treaties have been agreed upon and 19 new countries have joined the EU since 1979. As a result of this outdated system, there is no single European election. Instead, there are 27 national elections in 27 Member States.

We need to change how Europeans vote! The way we vote for our European political representatives has not changed fundamentally since 1979. Europe in the meantime, has changed. Five new treaties have been agreed upon and 19 new countries have joined the EU since 1979. As a result of this outdated system, there is no single European election. Instead, there are 27 national elections in 27 Member States.

In order to truly represent Europeans, we need to make sure that all voices—and not just the old—are heard around the continent. In order to create a level playing field for political parties and citizens’ movements with grassroots support at the national and European levels, we need unified access rules. Rules that are open creating a truly competitive and innovative political debate across our Union.

We, therefore, propose the possibility for any citizen movement or political grouping that is able to collect a representative amount of signatures from eligible voters from a quarter of member states of the European Union to be able to run on a pan-European list and be eligible for European elections across all European Union. These should include minimum democratic standards for party and ballot registration to ensure fair and EU-wide comparable access to European politics.

For a more detailed overview of VOLT proposals for the Future of Europe, see COFE - The Campaign to build a better future for Europe - Volt Europa -> https://www.volteuropa.org/cofe-campaign

An EU United Nations Security Council Seat

by Teun Janssen

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The European Union should gain a seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to better advance its interests in the world and reinforce international human rights protection, peace and security and the multilateral order.

For years, efforts at reform of the UNSC have centred around expanding the number of permanent seats to countries such as Germany, Japan, India, Brazil and two African countries.

The EU has permanent observer status at the UN without voting rights; but has had a central role in coordinating its member state delegations. Due to an increasingly unstable international climate where multilateralism and the rules-based international order are under threat, the EU should have a seat at the table of global security management in line with its quest for more strategic autonomy.

Such a UNSC seat for the EU should go hand in hand with a comprehensive reform of the UN system; including an expansion of the membership, a greater role for global democratic participation including a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, and a move away from the veto-nature of the UNSC that has paralysed the world's foremost decision making forum for international security for years.

Such an EU seat could be established by transferring the French UNSC seat to the EU, or transform the new German seat (along with the aforementioned new country additions) into an EU representation.

Source: https://www.dw.com/en/germany-has-big-plans-for-un-security-council-seat/a-46877719(Lien externe)

Easy and Inclusive European Voting

by Teun Janssen

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We need to increase the ability to vote by mail, by proxy, from abroad and electronically - Living outside your home E.U. country or having mobility challenges shouldn’t stop you from being able to vote. We need to make it easier for everyone to participate in our democracy.

We want Member States to provide for the possibility of advance and postal voting in elections to the European Parliament.

We want Europeans to be able to cast their vote electronically whilst ensuring that their data is secure and safe as well as the voting mechanism is fully secured and impregnable.

We should give Europeans in every Member State the right to vote at 16 years of age - Young voices are the future - they should be listened to, and encouraged to participate in the democratic process. We propose making 16 the voting age across all Member States. At the same time each 18 year-old in the Union should have the right to stand in an election. Hence, we want the EU to allow all 18-year olds to be able to present their candidacy on either national or pan-European ballot lists.

We should improve access for people with reduced mobility, or those experiencing homelessness - Bureaucracy should never get in the way of our fundamental rights - if you’re eligible to vote, you should be able to vote without impediment, no matter your circumstance.

For a more detailed overview of VOLT proposals for the Future of Europe, see https://www.volteuropa.org/cofe-campaign

European History Textbook Standards

by Teun Janssen

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Every socio-political group requires a collective story, an imagined community to bind together its citizens in common cause and give it legitimacy. A shared perspective on the past is one of the crucial building blocks of such a dynamic.

Education remains a prerogative of the Member States, but wide gaps exist in both the quality of substance and length devoted to the origins of the foundation of the European Union and its rationales; the catastrophes of the 20th century, with 1945 and 1989 as key dates.

At the same time, heavy politicisation and mythification of historical truth in some Member States has reinforced diverging public perceptions and political narratives through contested historical interpretations.

Institutions such as the Platform of European Memory and Conscience and initiatives such as the HOPE observatory of the Council of Europe are examples of efforts to create a shared understanding of educating European citizens about the origins and rationales of the European project and how they connect with our potential and desired futures. Historical truth is complex and should remain a-political, while at the same time common frames of reference have to exist. Establishing a balance is key.

It would therefore be an excellent idea to create common standards on European History Textbooks in various levels of education across the EU27! Let's plant a tree of community amongst the building blocks of our common past.

Independent scientific research on the new chemicals, food, medicine and other products in the EU and an immediate ban for the Roundup product!

by Mikolaj Buszman

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Why? As currently it is being done by scientists paid and pressured by giant food and chemical corporations. Proof? Watch this 30 min long DW documentary on Bayer and the bees -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaNSByf4sLA.

It's like allowing somebody to treat and cure all your family members, dog, cat, parrot, and plants with a self-proclaimed and self-tested medicine! Would you allow it?

The idea is simple: instead of big corporations conducting research on products they wish to implement on the EU market; the EU would create a system where truly independent scientific labs from various European countries and Universities would be hired to verify the quality and safety of products to be implemented. This would ensure both: health & transparency and much-needed investment in the science.

Right now when implementing new products on the EU market, full research is not being done by the EU but by for example Monsanto-, Bayer-sponsored scientists who, depending on their integrity, might or might not present full & real results of the research.

Yet such kinds of decisions should be objective without any doubt and not depending on the integrity of this or that person.

Since today we are celebrating the World Food Safety Date we demand this false approach to finish ASAP. Cancer-causing product Roundup is still available on the EU market! We citizens of the EU demand its immediate removal and restructuration of the EU commercial permissions model.

A European Nuclear Deterrent

by Teun Janssen

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After Brexit, France remains the only country in the EU with an autonomous nuclear capability of around 300. While Europe should work towards a full global implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the long term, it should also be able to rely on a credible nuclear deterrent in the short to medium term that is transparent, efficient and effective. European strategic autonomy.

Due to recent experiences with US ambiguities over collective defense as outlined in Article 5 of the NATO charter, the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union and renewed geopolitical tensions in the world including by systemic rivals such as Russia and China, it would be prudent to create a European-pool of the existing French nuclear deterrent capability.

Such a pool could be fully (or partially, some remaining under full French supervision) under the authority of the European Union at European Council level and with the mutual control of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

It would be the EU's prerogative to communicate its non-first strike policy, prevent the expansion of its nuclear capability, and cooperate with NATO partners. It should also lead by example in global nuclear disarmament.

This is compatible with the streamlining and ''Europeanising'' of a nuclear deterrent that protects European citizens.

Source:
https://www.elysee.fr/en/emmanuel-macron/2020/02/07/speech-of-the-president-of-the-republic-on-the-defense-and-deterrence-strategy(Lien externe)

A Federal European Republic

by Jan Birkmann

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As a peace project, the European Union has already achieved a great deal. But we must recognize that in the face of climate change, a refugee crisis, a past financial crisis and now a pandemic, it is no longer sufficiently well positioned to represent the interests of Europeans. At the same time, the individual member states are too weak to cope with the major challenges of our time.


Therefore, a federated European republic must develop from the EU with all willing states, in which all people can live according to their façon and identity and can live together!

Our events on the COFE platform

Hur tar vi EU närmare folket?/ How do we bring the EU closer to the (Swedish) citizens?

by Annette Wolff

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EU scepticism has long been widespread in Sweden and is largely based on the lack of participation in decision-making in Brussels. How can we increase citizens' involvement in European politics? How can further democratisation reduce Euroscepticism? Are European parties the future of the EU?

The event is open for all EU-interested people who would like to discuss such questions as mentioned above. We will focus on the topic from a Swedish perspective but the meeting is not limited to people living in Sweden. Everyone is welcome!

The meeting is organized by Volt Sverige, a part of the pan-European party Volt Europa which currently exists in more than 30 European countries. We are looking forward to discussing the future of Europe together with you!

COFE F.A.Q.

Why is it important to endorse a Volt Proposal on the Platform ?

Volt has been pushing for EU reform since its creation. The COFE constitutes ideal grounds for Volt to present its vision for Europe and debate it with citizens from all across the continent. Moreover, COFE is an ideal chance for Volt to make itself more visible and position itself as progressive, pan-European and pro-European integration. With Damian as a member of the European Parliament’s delegation to the Conference on the Future of Europe, together with all its members and its MEP, Volt can come out of this one-year process as the leading voice on changing Europe and reforming EU democracy from the bottom up.

Why is engaging on the COFE platform important?

The agenda of the citizens’ assemblies and the institutional discussions between governments, national and European parliaments will be determined by those proposals on the COFE platform that are most successful - i.e. most endorsed or followed. Currently the top proposal for example on the Democracy pillar has received around 500 endorsements.

Our objective is ambitious and strategic. It is to promote Volt’s vision for a better, citizens’ driven Europe and put it on the agenda of civil society, citizens debates and eventually on the agenda of policy-makers. The goal is to spark debate around the ideas that we stand for bringing forth a comprehensive proposition for how EU democracy should look like after and detached from COFE.

How to log on to the website & endorse proposals?

Here is an explanation on how to access the platform by Volt Co-President Reinier Van Lanschot.

More information:

Download our Action Tool Kit for tips and tricks on how to submit proposals and events.

Download the Info Tool Kit for more information on the COFE process.

The COFE Campaign Team

Hannah Gohlke

Hannah Gohlke

COFE Campaign Lead

Mikolaj Buszman

Mikolaj Buszman

COFE Campaign Lead

Teun Janssen

Teun Janssen

COFE Digital Platform Advisor

Joachim Wilcke

Joachim Wilcke

EU Parliament Advisor

Robin Fontaine

Robin Fontaine

Policy Advisor - Climate Change and the Environment

Elisabeth Friedrich

Elisabeth Friedrich

Policy Advisor - EU Reform

Emil Criscione

Emil Criscione

Volt's Way of Doing Politics